Consolidation in the travel industry
Is there a mega tour operator emerging?
DER Touristik, Kuoni’s parent company, is said to be working on the takeover of competitor FTI Touristik. It is still unclear whether two of the largest travel groups in Europe will be allowed to merge at all.
“DER” stands for “German travel agency”: DER Touristik is the second largest travel group in Europe and wants to continue growing through the merger with FTI Touristik.
Jean Claude RaemyEditor Economics
Uproar in the travel industry! As the “Handelsblatt” writes, there should be a merger between DER Touristik from Cologne and FTI Touristik from Munich. The negotiations are already at an advanced stage.
When asked by Blick, the companies did not comment. From FTI it says: “We do not comment on market speculation or rumors.” Which of course is not a denial.
According to the “Handelsblatt”, the condition for the deal is that a haircut is carried out at FTI. During the Corona crisis, FTI asked for financial support and received guarantees, silent participations and loans totaling around 500 million euros from the German state. A haircut would therefore be at the expense of German taxpayers, at least in part. It is unclear what share of the 500 million will go to the federal government and the FTI owners. In total, however, the FTI Group is said to be burdened with debts of one billion euros.
In addition, it is still unclear whether a merger of the two companies would be approved by the antitrust authorities. DER Touristik is the second largest tour operator in Europe, FTI Touristik the third largest. DER Touristik achieved sales of a good two billion euros in 2021. FTI Touristik achieved sales of around 1.5 billion euros in 2021. These sales figures are likely to have increased significantly in 2022. It remains to be seen whether profits were made on the bottom line.
What does that have to do with Switzerland?
In Switzerland, too, there is no comment on a possible merger. Such an approach would also have an impact here. DER Touristik is the parent company of DER Touristik Suisse, based in Zurich. This includes the brands Kuoni and Helvetic Tours, and is the parent company of various destination specialists such as Manta Reisen, Kontiki and Private Safaris. The company also includes around 70 travel agencies throughout Switzerland. DER Touristik Suisse employs around 900 people (670 full-time positions).
The FTI Group, in turn, is represented in the Swiss market by FTI Touristik AG, based in Basel, and also has a tour operator branch in Dietlikon ZH. FTI does not have its own travel agencies in this country. Around 170 people work at FTI across Switzerland.
Also interesting in this context: The FTI Group is majority-owned by the Sawiris family. Samih Sawiris, known in Switzerland for his commitment in Andermatt, increased his stake in FTI from 33.7 to 75.1 percent in 2020. This capital increase was a prerequisite for support measures by the Federal Republic.